Backups And Recovery

Backups of computers, software, websites and data are only as good as the recovery process.  Every day millions of backups are made of computer systems, but very few of these are tested by IT people, business owners and their staff.  What if you really had to use your backups?

Over the bank holiday weekend British Airways had a major incident with their IT systems.  Although they have yet to publish exactly what went wrong, it is clear that they did not have in place proven processes for recovering from a power failure, server failure, or corrupt systems.  Maybe they did have these processes in place, but staff were unfamiliar with the steps within them, and had not practiced them.

Whether it was a power failure, hardware failure, or data corrupted, perhaps through a cyber attack, they did not have appropriate diagnostic processes in place, nor recovery processes to resume operations.

If you have business critical systems or data, then you need to have resilient power, an offsite recovery centre, or even a mirror system running alongside your live systems, just in case things go wrong.

The most important thing is to practice the recovery process, maybe every 3 months.  Annually is not frequent enough, as in between things change and so your recovery process will need to be kept up-to-date.

When I returned to work on the Tuesday after the bank holiday, one of the tasks in our company calendar was to run the recovery of three of our systems.  One of these was our phone system.  My network manager and a team leader ran the recovery process, recovered three services, tested them, and then confirmed with me that these were successful.

Backups are good practice.  Running your recovery processes is essential step in business resilience.  When you need to do this for real, you will have confidence that it actually works.  It could save your business, or, if you are an employee, save your job.

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